Recent gig reports:
A new edition of Len Garry’s book:
“John, Paul and Me - Before the Beatles”
Len started writing a book about his friendship with John Lennon and Paul McCartney and the early days of the Quarrymen in 1995 after he was bedridden as result of damaging a calf muscle. The book finally appeared in print in 1997, providing a unique “I was there” insight from Len, who had been a schoolmate of Paul’s since he was 11 years old and who first met John in 1955 when he was introduced to him by another friend from Liverpool Institute, Ivan Vaughan.
The book was much sought after by Beatles fans and eventually went out of print some years ago. Len has been meaning to re-visit his book for quite some time and this is the long awaited result - a revised and updated edition, with even more stories - which Len launched at the Adelphi Hotel during the 2014 Beatles Week in Liverpool.
Copies are available on-line at a price of £15 plus postage.
Rod Davis at the Beatles Museum, Halle, Germany
Rod was invited to come to the Beatles Museum in Halle, not far from Leipzig in Germany at the end of July 2014 to talk about the early days of Skiffle and the Quarrymen. The Museum came as a great surprise to him as although he had long been aware of its existence he had no idea how fantastic it was. Situated in a beautiful mediaeval building near the centre of the picturesque town of Halle, the museum contains a positive wealth of Beatles memorabilia and artefacts. It is supported by a shop which sell absolutely all kinds of Beatles souvenirs and there is also a very pleasant cafe which spills out into the leafy courtyard on sunny days. Although Halle is a bit off the beaten track for the average British tourist, it is very well worth a small diversion, especially if you are heading for Dresden or even Berlin.
On Saturday evening there was a special “Meet and Greet” dinner in the museum and on Sunday Rod gave his talk in German, illustrated by a selection of digitally projected photographs, many of them taken by his father, James Davis, in the nineteen fifties. This was followed by a marathon autograph session. The only downside of the visit was that somehow Rod stupidly managed to lock himself out of his hotel room, leaving the keys in the locked inside! The solution to this involved some improvised burglarising techniques including an attempt to remove the hinge pins from the door, but eventually all was saved by the production of a paper clip from a lady’s handbag which enabled them to poke the keys out of the lock from the outside! Thanks to Rainer, Martin and Stefan for a great weekend.
This is the link to the Museum and Shop website:
After his visit to Halle, on the recommendation of German Beatles friend Edmund Thielow, Rod dropped in at the Framus Guitar Museum at Markneukirchen, just north of the Czech border. In the fifties Framus and Hofner guitars, both built in Germany, were the best guitars available in Britain as because of exchange controls it was impossible to buy American made instruments. Just about everybody who played guitar in the fities and sixties owned a Framus at one time or another. Paul McCartney’s Zenith guitar, which was actually made by Framus, was imported into the UK by the famous jazz guitarist, Ivor Mairants, whose real signature appears on the label inside each guitar. John Lennon also played a Framus 12-string guitar at one time. The range and quality of the instruments on display is remarkable and in the cafe upstairs you can have your own picking session on a Framus guitar powered through a Framus amp!
Framus Guitar Musem - Markneukirchen
Above: with Pavel
Below: With Stefan and amateur
Autographs - with Edmund (Below)
Above: with Martin, Rainer and Stefan
Above: with Janet and Andrea
Above: a last cup of coffee with Klaus and Rainer
The Framus Museum on a wet afternoon
Take your pick!
Just a few of the many superb instruments on show, including a Paul McCartney type Zenith (left). You may be suprised to know that Framus also made banjos, basses, steel guitars, zithers and hammer dulcimers!
Original Quarrymen banjo goes on sale at auction!
Inspired by Lonnie Donegan’s recording of “Rock Island Line in 1956, Liverpool schoolboy Rod Davis pestered his parents to buy him a guitar or a banjo - Donegan played both instruments. Eventually he acquired a banjo, a Windsor Whirle Victor Supremus 5 string to share between himself and his brother, Bernie (see photo) and he was invited to join John Lennon’s Quarrymen Skiffle group. Rod played this banjo at every Quarrymen gig he attended in ‘56 and ‘57, including several appearances at the Cavern, Rosebery Street and St Peter’s Rose Queen on the day John met Paul.
John Lennon himself played this banjo on stage a number of times because whenever he broke a guitar string - a not infrequent occurrence as they were thrashing their instruments to make themselves heard as they had no amplifiers - John would hand Rod his guitar in mid-song and swap for Rod’s banjo and by the time they finished that song Rod would have replaced the guitar string and they swapped back again!
When the Quarrymen practised at the house of John’s mother, Julia, in Blomfield Road, she would say ” I hate those horrible guitars, here Rod, let me have a go of your banjo.” So it has also been played by John’s mother.
Over the years it has been played as a four string and a five string banjo and Rod played it in Woolton in 1997 at the 40th Anniversary Celebrations of the Day John met Paul.
The well-known auction house, Tracks, is holding a sale of Memorabilia which will be Internet based from Nov 14 to Nov 22. On Sat 22nd there is a Viewing Day at the Meridien Hotel, Piccadilly, London and the Live Auction will take place the following day, Sunday 23 November. Rod’s banjo will be part of this sale, for which the top attraction is John Lennon’s Gretsch guitar which he played on the “Paperback Writer” session and is owned by John’s cousin, David Birch MBE.
Go to the Tracks Auction website to check out the fantastic range of Beatles related and other items on offer:
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